Nuggets hope for gold in NBA draft

Jul 5, 2005 2:46 AM


The Denver Nuggets improved themselves in the NBA Draft. The problem is so did the other 29 teams.

"I think it was an outstanding draft," said Ken White, a Las Vegas oddsmaker. "The league is in great shape. There’s plenty of parity and lots of competition."

The Nuggets are listed anywhere from 12-1 to 15-1 in the Las Vegas Strip sports books to win the 2006 NBA title. White said the recent draft should not affect the odds.

"There aren’t many players with impact to make us alter the odds much," he said. "I do like how Denver drafted, notably their top pick Julius Hodge."

The No. 7 overall selection from North Carolina State has a similar game to Denver star Carmelo Anthony, who is capable of playing either shooting guard or small forward.

"Hodge is a real good slasher and can shoot the three," White said."

White also saw positives with the other two Nuggets draftees Linas Kleiza and Ricky Sanchez.

"Kleiza impressed me with his toughness at Missouri," White said. At 6-foot-8, 245 pounds he grabbed 250 rebounds last year. Sanchez (6-11, 205) is a teenager who they should be able to use in the future."

The Nuggets were one of the NBA’s most improved teams, compiling a 49-33 regular season record. Denver lost in five games to eventual league champion San Antonio in the first round of the playoffs.

Caesars Palace currently lists the Spurs as a 7-2 favorite to defend the title next year.